Model Teachers

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Darla ArendsPicture of Darla Arends

Model teacher  

Darla Arends (Miss Arends) is a Learning Center Educator (Special Education) and Team Teaches in English 

She was raised in Zearing Iowa, the home of the 40 horse hitch with Dick Sparrow. She attended and graduated from NESCO community schools. She completed my under graduate education from the University of Iowa. She has 4 brothers and a sister, 11 nieces and nephews, and 13 great nieces and nephews and loves being around my family. She is a fur mom with two cats, Grace and Whiskers. They keep her very busy and entertained. She LOVES gardening. 

Darla taught 7 years in Forest City at NCHS (North Central Human Services). This is a private facility for persons with significant needs. She then moved to Charles City and has been teaching in the high school for 17 years. 

Darla is currently taking the Iowa Core Standards-Based Rubric IEP Pilot class through the AEA.  She continues to develop team teaching practices and plans on attending conferences and classes to learn more about standard based learning. She attends and assists with ICTE and is an active participant in many groups within CC Schools. 


Brenda BaileyPicture of Brenda Bailey

Model teacher  

Brenda Bailey facilitates learning at the middle school in 7th grade language arts. She also has the privilege of working with a talented group of high school students as the assistant speech coach. 

Brenda graduated from Charles City High School in 1980, never imagining that she would return to raise her family here. She and her husband, Brad, have three children, all graduates of Charles City. Ryan is a doctor, currently in residency at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida; Eric is a website developer in New York City; and Katherine will graduate from UNI in December and be student teaching in secondary English beginning in January.

Brenda has degrees from the University of Iowa and UNI - a BBA in Management Information Systems from Iowa, and a BA from UNI in middle level education. She has been teaching in Charles City for her entire eleven year teaching career, first in 6th grade social studies and language arts for one year, and then on to 7th grade geography and eventually language arts.

Brenda is currently working to improve the her practice of standards based grading in the classroom, and is participating in a class on Growth Mindset which she is ardently working to instill in your students.


Picture of Donna ForsythDonna Forsyth

Model teacher  

Name- Donna Forsyth

Donna teaches 9-12  High School  Biology, Exploring Science Careers, Iowa BIG North

Donna has four wonderful children, 2 educators, 1 Nurse and 1 what to decide!

She is beginning her 32nd year of teaching. She is a UNI graduate and has taught in Tipton and Allison- Bristow before beginning her teaching career in Charles City in 1992.

Donna recently completed the Stem Innovator training at the U of I and nows offer a 3 credit STEM Innovator, a U of I college course to IBN students. She loves attending conferences that discuss STEM and the opportunities available. She also love discussing new teaching strategies a trying new practices.

Donna is working very hard to implement SBG in all of  her classes and loves talking with students and parents about this practice.


Picture of Brandy MutchBrandy Mutch    

Model teacher

Brandy Mutch is a first grade teacher at Washington Elementary. She is the co-owner of Cedar River Signs with her husband, Cory Mutch.  They have two children - Jillian who is in 7th grade and Addison who is in 3rd grade. They enjoy having movie nights, going on bike rides, and camping. 

Brandy attended college at NIACC and UNI, majoring in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  She has been teaching first grade for 9 years in Charles City.  She taught Kindergarten previously in Mason City for 8 years. 

Brandy is currently taking the Literacy Instruction in a Workshop Setting class. This year her focus is on building classroom community and relationships during their morning meeting each day.


picture of Lisa NelsonLisa Nelson   

Model teacher

Lisa Nelson teaches Reading at Charles City Middle School. She has a wonderful husband named Chad, two lovely daughters, Makenna nd Autumn, a fluffy husky named Azure.  Lisa is a proud Nashuan.  Her favorite things to do are boat, clean, read, shop and snow ski.  She loves wrestling and the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Lisa taught 8th grade Language Arts for 14 years in Charles City, two years in Kindergarten and decided to return to the middle school this year. 

Lisa is currently taking Teaching Transparently and Exectuve Function the the Classroom.  She is also currently working on her National Board Certification (NBC).  

Switching to Kindergarten has made LIsa improve her practice.  The NBC is extremely vaulable and the best professional reflection she has ever done.  She is also working on becoming a math teacher and learning ther workship model for elementary math, readinga nd writing.  She is doing so much leanring. 


Picture of Rob PitmanRobert S. Pittman    

Model teacher

Robert teaches 9-12th grade, the classes he teaches are US History, World Geography, Contemporary World Issues, Philosophy, and Expeditions (An outdoor education class).  He is gloriously married and has two daughters, Zadie and Fiona, who are ten and nine.  He is also a wrestling and volleyball coach in the school district and coach and sponsor the fencing club.  He enjoys eating, cooking, reading, travel, and rock climbing.

He started teaching in 2002 in Colorado, and is in his twelfth year teaching in Charles City, Iowa.  He is currently interested in two fields of study: 1. Bringing STEM into the Social Studies classroom and developing a sequenced DBQ writing strategy for students.  He also teaches with the Iowa AEA on introducing the Social Studies aspects of the English Common Core Standards.


picture of Diane SandeDiane Sande  

Model teacher

Diane Sande is a fourth grade teacher at Lincoln.  She is married to her husband, Dennis.  She has four grown children; ages 31, 27, 26 and 22.  She also has 10 year old twins.  They have lived in Charles City for 32 years.  

Diane began her career in Charles City teacher severe and profound at Washington Elementary.  She taught there for four years and then moved to Jefferson to begin and additional BD program for the district.  She continued teaching BD when she moved to Lincoln and taught ther for two years before moving to 4th grade.  She has been in 4th grade for 12 years now and is by far her favorite position to teach.  

Diane has her Master's Degree and was also given the privelege to participate in the Exxonmobil Science and Math Academy in New York back in 2013.  This changed the way she taught math, but especially science. 

Diane is curretnly taking a class called Teaching Trasnparently.  To improve her practice she continously looks for resources and coursework that will help her students.  She also tries to be reflective when teaching so she can make the changes in instruction that wil improve her students' learning.  


Picture of April SchweinfurthApril Schweinfurth  

Model teacher

April Schweinfurth has taught for 9 years.  She taught Preschool Special Education three years and has taught the last five years in kindergarten. 

April has 2 daughters, Adilynn and Avery. A dog named Carver. She enjoys spending time with her girls, music, and being outside.

April earned her BA from Wartburg College in Elementary Education with endorsements in Reading, Early Childhood, and Mild and Moderate Disabilities in Special Education. She has her masters Early Childhood Special Education from University of Missouri-Columbia.

April is currently engaged in Literacy Workshop and Compassion Fatigue classes. She is also continuing to work on concise teaching points during mini lessons in reading and writing, as well as, conferring with students in not only reading and math, but writing as well


Picture of Laura StallsmithLaura Stallsmith    

Model teacher

Laura teaches Transitional Kindergarten at Washington Elementary.  She is in her 24th year of teaching.  Her first 20 years were at Immaculate Conception in Charles City and her last four have been at Washington.  

Laura graduated from UNI.  Over the years she has taught preschool, first grade, third and fourth grade math, kindergarten,  and transitional kindergarten.




Shannon VenzPicture of Shannon Venz

Model teacher

Shannon teaches 2nd Grade at Washington Elementary.  She was born and raised in Charles City, graduating in 2005.  She went to UNI and received her bachelor's degree in elementary education, with a K-8 reading endorsement. She is married and and has one daughter. 

She started working for Charles City Schools in the fall of 2009 as a Title One reading and math teacher for 3rd-5th grade.  The next year she transferred to a kindergarten position and taught that for three years.  When a position became available in second grade, she jumped at the chance.  This will be her fifth year teaching second grade.  

She was a lab classroom teacher in the area of math for three years and this will be her second year as a model teacher.  She have not been a mentor teacher before, but is excited for the opportunity.


Frequent Asked Questions

  1. What do the model teachers do?

Model teachers teach. However, they have "open doors" to their classrooms and visitors are encouraged.  You can email that you're coming, visit with the model teacher anytime, and/or just stop by. Everyone is encouraged to visit the model teacher classrooms . . . there aren't any "rules" about who should or should not.  This is about collegiality, culture, instruction and student achievement.

  1. Can I visit a model teacher not within my building?

Of course!  The CoEI transcend building, content areas or grade levels.

  1. I want to see something specific a model teacher is doing, can I do that?

Certainly!  Email a model teacher or talk to your instructional coach to make that happen.  The model teachers know they may get specific requests and will make efforts to accommodate.

  1. When do I go to watch a model teacher?

You may go during your prep time. If that doesn't work, contact your administrator or instructional coach who could possibly provide coverage for you while you visit another classroom.